Countdown with Keith Olbermann



KEITH OLBERMANN: Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy was asked about Mr. Bush‘s immobility on the U.S. attorney scandal, the White House refusal to provide testimony or documents.  In response, the senator fired a warning shot over the White House bow with his reminder that contempt of Congress can be more than just a way of life, it is also a crime.




TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”:  Are you prepared to hold the Bush White House, the vice-president, the attorney general and his office under contempt of Congress?


SEN. PAT LEAHY (D), VERMONT:  That is something that the whole Congress has to vote on it.  In our case, in the Senate, we would have to vote on it.  The House, they would have to vote on it.


RUSSERT:  Would you go that far?


LEAHY:  If they do not cooperate, yes, I would go that far.




OLBERMANN:  As promised, let‘s bring in Dana Milbank, MSNBC analyst, national political reporter of the “Washington Post.”  Dana, good evening.




OLBERMANN:  We will talk about what happened with Senator Leahy and that prospect in a moment, but regarding the Libby commutation, how much damage did George Bush do to his presidency tonight?


MILBANK:  The question assumes that there is a presidency left to damage.  I mean that quite seriously.  For most presidents, this would be injurious.  But if the president sitting at 25 percent or 28 percent in the polls, and he has already lost all but the hardcore of conservatives, this actually gains him a couple of percentage points.  This could be the difference between the 27 and 29 percent presidency.


For the rest of the public, it will only sour their impression further.  The only thing he might do to win them back is to have a commutation ceremony, perhaps, like they do for the turkey at Thanksgiving.  They could get Scooter on the table in the Rose Garden and then send him off to a petting zoo for a few years.  


OLBERMANN:  I will make no height joke here.  Between this today and the ignoring of the subpoenas from the House and the Senate, on the other side of this, there is an extraordinarily large percentage of those who are in opposition to this administration who do not think impeachment is a good idea or even a rational idea, or at least, did not until today.  Do you think this might be impacting on them to some degree, that their opinions of whether or not to seriously consider that issue of impeachment could have been changed by this one action?


MILBANK:  Well, it will probably increase the number somewhat.  Dennis Kucinich is already up to 10 or 11 House members in his Cheney impeachment petition.  But there is a limit to this.  It is not so much that the Democrats disagree on the merits, but they disagree on the point of this.  If there is 18 months left of the presidency, why raise someone else to the presidency or to the vice presidency?


This president, to put it in perspective, has been down lower longer even than Richard Nixon.  It has been two and half years since he has had the support of even half the American public.  Two and a half years, incidentally, was the same amount that Libby was supposed to spend in prison.  But nobody is talking about commuting the president‘s sentence.